Date of Award
Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs (SOPA)
Ph.D. in Administration of Justice
Committee Member 1
Committee Member 2
Committee Member 3
Glenn S. Johnson
1969 Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act Administration of Justice, Black Lung Disease, Coal Mining, Policy Implementation, US Department of Labor.
Coal miners’ struggles with black lung disease can be traced to the 1800s. Back then, coal miners fought to make the industry accept that coal mine dust was the culprit behind black lung disease, but they failed. By 1900, some clinicians started recognizing that coal miners suffered from anthracosis or asthma. The miners realized that they could accomplish more if they worked as a team and formed the United Mine Workers of America. They attempted to get compensation for disabled coal miners but failed repeatedly. Their hard work gradually brought about change with the passage of the 1969 Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act which allowed the government to inspect coal mines, establish safety coal-dust level policies, and compensate sick coal miners. Gaining black lung disease benefits was not as easy as expected. Despite several thousand coal miners applying for black lung disease benefits, only a few thousand received them since the coal companies would mostly appeal benefit award claims for decades until the coal miner and/or his wife gave up or died. After the act was passed, there was a decrease in black lung disease cases until 2000, when the number started to rise again, especially among young coal miners. Many scholars have been looking for an explanation for the sudden increase in black lung disease cases since 2000. Some theorize that the increase was caused by coal mining companies cutting corners and not maintaining safe coal dust levels; the true extent of the problem was unknown because all coal miners do not test themselves for black lung disease. This research uses rational choice theory to analyze the decisions of key players, such as the federal government (Congress and the President), coal miners, black lung disease medical experts, coal mine operators/owners, and appellate courts, to identify patterns in the way their decisions impacted the US Department of Labor’s ability to implement the 1969 Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act (Policy) and the amendments added years later and also determine whether the federal government has properly implemented coal mining safety and health policies in the coal mining industry. The researcher would consider coal mine explosion investigations, criminal and/or civil cases related to coal mine explosions, violations to Environmental Protection Agency policies, and attempts by coal miners, and watchdog and coal mining organizations to obtain monetary damages and/or a judicial order to stop the federal government from issuing a coal mining permit or stop implementing the policies for coal mining federal agencies such as the MSHA. Coal mine explosion investigations and criminal/civil cases began in 2000 and has continued since then. The literature review suggests that the black lung cases among coal miners first noticeably rose in the mid 1990s. This research will answer the following questions: 1. How are the major findings of the mine explosions reports, criminal cases, and civil cases related to the administration of justice? 2. How are the major findings from the mine explosions reports, criminal cases, and civil cases related to the administration of black lung disease benefits? 3. How do the actions of key players (state and federal legislators, coal mining operators/owners, coal miners, and the federal government and federal agencies) possible hinder the US Department of Labor’s ability to implement the 1969 Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act (Policy) and its later amendments? How can it be determined whether the federal government has properly implemented coal mining safety and health policies in the coal mining industry?
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Basilio, Antonio, "An Analysis of Regional Corporate Injustice, Culture and Accountability" (2021). Dissertations (2016-Present). 40.